- How to find your dream job in Europe
- Find work either before you leave or after you land in Europe
- Different EU countries have different requirements for foreign workers
- Popular jobs for Americans looking for a new home
Many Americans are attracted to living and working in Europe. They want to experience its culture, history, vibrant urban centers, and landscapes celebrated in famous paintings. They also want to seek employment in countries with a high standard of living. Some 1.6 million U.S. citizens already call Europe their home.
Despite a strong interest in working abroad and the fact that many Americans already live in European Union (EU) and non-EU countries, it’s not an easy matter to land work there. You often need to prove that the work you’ll do can’t be handled by another citizen of the country.
It helps if you are one of the many expats who already have full-time, part-time, or contract work experience in the country you’re targeting and can speak the local language. Or, you can fill the demand that many countries have for highly skilled workers in certain fields, such as engineering, information technology, health care, and teaching — especially English-language teaching. At the other end of the scale, many European countries need short-term, seasonal work in industries that include agriculture, construction, hospitality, and tourism.
If you want to get a job in Europe — whether in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, or another country — this article will show how you should go about looking for and applying for work.
When looking for work in Europe, you’ll need to check the requirements for each country you’re interested in. If you are in the United States and land a job in Europe, that’s not a done deal. Your employment contract must still be approved by the host country, who will determine if you’re the best candidate for a job or whether a local candidate could do it instead — in which case your work application could be denied.
That said, Americans can actually land in an EU country and start looking for work after, if they don’t want to find a job before traveling there. With a Schengen visa, an American can travel among 26 of the 28 EU countries (except the U.K. and Ireland) but it doesn’t automatically give you the right to work there.
On arrival in a country, you could apply for an EU Blue Card — similar to a green card — facilitating the admission of highly skilled professionals into the EU. The work permit enables its holder to enter, re-enter, and stay in the country that has issued it, accompanied by their family.
As mentioned, you’ll need to check the work visa requirements of a country before you fill out an application. Keep in mind that non-EU countries may have different requirements.
That said, some common requirements include:
However, don’t forget each country’s particular requirements. For example, if you stay more than three months in Germany because of work, you’ll require a residence visa. You must also have two pages empty in your passport, and it’ll need to have been issued within the last 10 years.
For a residence permit, you’ll have to complete the application form, supply two recent passport photographs, provide proof of health insurance, evidence of financial support, the employer contract, and a police registration form. And while learning German isn’t mandatory, your job prospects and quality of life will improve if you overcome the language barrier.
Some common opportunities for American citizens working in Europe include:
Europe is also open to young entrepreneurs who have bright ideas for new businesses or can inject fresh thinking — and capital — into existing enterprises. You usually don’t need a job offer to work in this capacity; just demonstrable professional expertise and the necessary funds to get started.
Most European countries have programs to encourage self-starters who are living abroad. Even Germany, which has cracked down a lot on the kind of workers allowed in, will welcome self-employed professionals who are expected to have a positive effect on the economy.
There are a variety of ways for Americans to find jobs in Europe, whether through personal connections via online job boards and social media platforms, or by joining an American company with European connections.
Searching for jobs in Europe is much like searching for jobs in the U.S. — most applications are made online via job websites. There are a number of international and European-centric job-hunting sites to help find the type of work you’re looking for. You also have many country-specific and profession-specific job boards and websites you can use, allowing you to upload your resume and search for different job opportunities. If you want to do a particular job in a particular city, you can dig deeper to find the job-hunting help you need.
Just as you use LinkedIn to find jobs in America, you can also work with the networking platform to land European work to make valuable connections. You can set your job searches to return the type of work you want in particular countries. You might even already have links to European businesses through your existing LinkedIn connections and groups.
If you find a company or organization you want to work for, LinkedIn is a great place to start your research on them. You should keep your profile up to date and include experience that’s relevant to the kind of role you’re applying for.
Just like the United States, LinkedIn is the preferred social media platform in Europe for companies to find candidates. But other social media platforms are also important and worth exploring if you are looking for a job overseas. For example, XING is a popular job marketplace used in Germany, while Viadeo — whose members include business owners, entrepreneurs, and managers — does well against LinkedIn in France.
Another way to find jobs in Europe is to leverage the six degrees of separation phenomenon, which posits that all people are six, or fewer, social connections away from each other. Turn to your family members, friends, and colleagues to see who has any connections overseas. Perhaps through a friend of a friend, you can find the right connection to land some work in Europe or get good advice on how to do so.
Another way to get to Europe from the U.S. is to work for an international company with American branches, then arrange for a transfer overseas. Alternatively, you can work with a company that does a lot of business in Europe, perhaps getting posted there to do work on the ground or being asked to fly there often for meetings and consultations.
Since you don’t have to have a job lined up when you arrive in most EU countries, you can try to set up meetings with employers that interest you while you are there. An in-person meeting is a great way for the two of you to size each other up in a way you can’t do virtually. You can also go to different European job fairs — both in-person and online — bringing together job seekers and employers, with a lot of advice available on how to find work.
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